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Staying Out of Trouble 2017: Hot Topics in Ethics and Avoiding Professional Discipline

Speaker(s): Deborah A. Scalise, James Q. Walker, Raymond Vallejo, Richard M. Maltz, Ronald C. Minkoff, Sarah D. McShea
Recorded on: Dec. 21, 2017
PLI Program #: 180188

Raymond Vallejo is a Deputy Chief Counsel with the Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department. In the 20 years he has worked for the Committee, he has prosecuted numerous complex disciplinary matters ranging from the conversion of escrow funds from attorney trust accounts to the sexual abuse of clients by their attorneys. The scope of the Committee's investigations encompasses both professional and private conduct as well as the impact of state and federal criminal convictions on an attorney's ability to practice law. Mr. Vallejo has litigated these cases before court-appointed Referees and has engaged in oral argument before Hearing Panels in connection with these matters.

As a Deputy Chief Counsel, Mr. Vallejo is responsible for the direct supervision and training of Staff Attorneys at the Committee. He also evaluates complaints against attorneys and referrals to the Committee from judges, clients, other attorneys and initiates sua sponte investigations of attorney misconduct. Mr. Vallejo is presently an Officer of the New York State Association of Disciplinary Attorneys.

Prior to joining the Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Vallejo was an Assistant District Attorney with the Bronx District Attorney's Office for five years where, in addition to prosecuting felony jury and bench trials, he worked in the Appeals Bureau where he engaged in oral arguments in criminal cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany;  the Appellate Division, First Department; the Appellate Term, First Department; and litigated in the Southern District of New York.  
Mr. Vallejo has also served as an Arbitrator in Small Claims Court in New York County and has lectured, among other places, at the New York County Lawyer's Association's Bridge the Gap Program for newly admitted attorneys. A native New Yorker, Raymond is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science; received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York; and his law degree from the City University of New York School of Law in 1987.

Ronald C. Minkoff is the head of the Professional Responsibility Group at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, PC and one of New York State’s leading practitioners in the field of attorney ethics and professional responsibility.  In addition to representing businesses and individuals in commercial litigation, Mr. Minkoff represents attorneys in partnership disputes, disciplinary cases, and legal malpractice actions.  Mr. Minkoff is a member of the Executive Committees of the New York State Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers’ Association, a member of the Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct of the New York State Bar Association, which helped draft and continues to revise the New York Rules of Professional Conduct, a member of the Policy Implementation of the ABA Center on Professional Responsibility, and a past President of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers.  He has taught as an Adjunct Professor of Professional Responsibility at Columbia University School of Law, New York University School of Law, Fordham University School of Law, Cardozo School of Law and Brooklyn Law School. He has served as the editor of the New York Legal Ethics Reporter, and has written extensively for that and other publications on all aspects of the “law of lawyering.”

Sarah Diane McShea has practiced in the professional responsibility field since 1980.  Her solo law practice is devoted to advising lawyers and law firms on professional responsibility matters. She represents lawyers in disciplinary proceedings; litigates sanctions and disqualification issues; provides ethics and professional advice to lawyers, law firms, government agencies and in-house law departments; represents bar applicants; and serves as an expert witness on professional responsibility issues. McShea is a member of the Editorial Board of the ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association's Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct and serves on several other bar association professional ethics committees as well. McShea is a contributing editor to The New York Rules of Professional Conduct (Oxford, 2011); a founding member and Past President of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) and a Trustee of the New York State Lawyer Assistance Trust. She also teaches professional responsibility as an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law and previously was an adjunct at Columbia University School of Law and Brooklyn Law School. She is a former Deputy Chief Counsel to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee in the First Department and former Bureau Chief (Public Corruption) in the Kings County District Attorney's Office. She graduated from Yale College and Boston University School of Law.

James Walker is a partner in the New York office of Perkins Coie LLP, where he also serves as that office’s Loss Prevention Partner.  He concentrates in government investigations and professional liability. Mr. Walker represents companies and senior executives in government investigations, civil litigation, and employment matters, and defends law firms and lawyers in malpractice claims, disqualification motions and professional conduct advice. Mr. Walker Chairs the New York County Lawyer’s Association Committee on Professional Ethics, is on the Editorial Board of the ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct and Law360’s Legal Ethics Editorial Advisory Board, and is a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct (COSAC) and Committee on Professional Ethics. He also serves on the New York City Bar’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. Mr. Walker frequently lectures and publishes on topics that include internal investigations, technology and legal practice, and professional liability. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1990 and B.S. in Applied Math from Yale College in 1985. 

Richard M. Maltz is counsel to the Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Group of Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz, P.C.  With more than 23 years of experience in the professional responsibility field, he is one of New York State’s leading practitioners in the field of legal ethics and professional responsibility, representing law graduates seeking admission, lawyers and law firms in a wide variety of disciplinary matters, litigation, fee disputes and law firm disputes.  He was recently recognized by Best Lawyers in America as one of the top attorneys in his field.  He has also been named as a Super Lawyer as noted in the New York Times Magazine.

Mr. Maltz served two years as First Deputy Chief Counsel (1998-2000) and nine years as Deputy Chief Counsel (1989-1998) for the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department.  Prior to joining the Committee, Mr. Maltz handled both criminal and civil litigation.

Currently, Mr. Maltz is a member of the New York State Bar Committee on Professional Discipline, the New York City Bar Professional and Judicial Ethics Committee and Co-Chair of the New York County Lawyers’ Ethics Committee.  He was creator and Chair of the New York State Trial Lawyer’s Ethics Committee. 

Mr. Maltz is a former Chair of the Professional Responsibility Committee of the New York City Bar (2002-2005) and former Chair and then Co-Chair of the Ethics Committee of the Westchester County Bar Association.  He is a member of the New York County Lawyers’ Ethics Institute and was appointed to the New York State Bar Advertising Task Force.  He was also former Chair of the Briarcliff Manor Ethics Board, as well as a former Referee for the Judicial Conduct Commission.

Mr. Maltz has been certified to teach an ethics CLE course by the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board and he lectures often on disciplinary and ethical issues for New York State, City, and County Bar associations and for private law firms. He has taught professional responsibility at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and has published articles in the New York Law Journal, New York State Bar Journal, and Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics. He has also acted as an ethics expert.

Deborah A. Scalise is a partner in the firm SCALISE & HAMILTON LLP in Scarsdale, New York which focuses its practice on the representation of professionals (primarily lawyers and judges) in professional responsibility and ethics matters and white-collar criminal matters.  Since 2002, Ms. Scalise has appeared before the Character and Fitness Committees, the New York State and Federal Grievance Committees and the Judicial Conduct Commission. 

Prior to 2002, Ms. Scalise was Deputy Assistant Attorney General in Charge of Public Advocacy for the Westchester Region for the NY Attorney General’s Office and handled cases involving consumer frauds, civil rights and public integrity matters. Before that, she was Deputy Chief Counsel to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department where she investigated and litigated complex disciplinary matters. She began her career as an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County, where she handled economic crimes and arson cases.  Ms. Scalise earned a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School, a Bachelor of Arts Degree from John Jay College, CUNY and a Master of Arts Degree in Forensic Psychology from the John Jay College Graduate School, CUNY. 

In 2016, Ms. Scalise was appointed to the NYS Office of Court Administration CLE Board by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. She also testified before the 2015 OCA State Commission on Professional Discipline with regard to attorney mental health issues. Her authored materials, entitled “Ethically Dealing with Clients, Witnesses and Attorneys with Diminished Capacity,” were annexed to the Commission’s Report that issued recommendations as to the unification of the New York State disciplinary process. 

Ms. Scalise is a contributing author in “The Dementia Crisis” written by Robert Abrams, Esq., Editor, NYS Bar Association Journal, January 2017. She contributed a chapter to Oxford University Press’s The New York Rules of Professional Conduct: Opinions, Commentary, and Case Law, a treatise discussing ethical conduct, and frequently contributes articles related to professional responsibility and ethics issues for among others, the NYSBA Journal and State Bar News; the WBASNY and WWBA Newsletters; the WCBA Bar Journal; and the NYSTLA Bill of Particulars. 

In 2015 Ms. Scalise and her partner, Sarah Jo Hamilton were honored by NYCBA Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) for their continued support and contributions to LAP. In 2014, the firm received the WWBA’s Family Friendly Award.  In 2012, Ms. Scalise received WBASNY’s Marilyn Menge Award and in 2009 she received the Westchester County Above the Bar Pace Setter Award.  She was the subject of a profile in the ABA's Student Lawyer Magazine in its February 2005 issue.